I thought it might be useful to define some of the different media that you hear artists working with in their original artwork. I have worked with most of them at one time or another and so I have familiarity with themAcrylic-Paint.

The medium I’m working in right now is acrylic. Acrylic is a 20th century innovation, made of polymer medium, in which particles of pigment are suspended. This is just a fancy way of saying that it’s liquid plastic with color  in mixed in. When you have a painting  that is painted with acrylic, you have a very durable surface.


One of my acrylic paintings

Acrylic paint adheres well to just about any surface that it is painted on. You may also have heard about mediums, like gel medium and gloss medium. They are colorless formulations of the liquid plastic that have different characteristics and viscosities.  acrylic-mediums-bannerThere is gel medium which is thick like cake frosting and it can be either gloss which is shiny, semi gloss or matte which is not shiny at all. Some of the mediums are thinner, more liquidy and others are completely solid, kind of a Crisco thickness. But they will dry clear and give different kinds textures to the surface.

Next is oil paint. Oil paint was used for centuries and most of the great classic paintings you see in museums were made with it. oil-painting-1128693_960_720 It has color pigments suspended in a linseed, natural oil base.


Forest hi res copy






With the oil paint one needs to use centers such as turpintine to clean it. Generally takes quite a long time to dry as opposed to acrylic which dries minutes. There is a special luster that comes from oil paint which is hard to reproduce.



Then we come to pastels which had been my medium of choice for a long time. In the art world when you refer to pastels, it generally means the dry, chalky type. However, they are not chalks. They are solid sticks of color. There is only a small amount of binder used to make the color solid and when you apply it to the painting surface, you get exactly the color you hold in your hand.


TANNERY-MOROCCO is made with pastel.


Once the painting is done, the loose, dusty particles can be made more stable by spraying on fixative but when pastel paintings are handled or moved around a lot, frequently dust will loosen from the painting. That makes it very hard to ship to juried shows and that problem is what made me move on to acrylic. You may be more familiar with oil pastels that some artists use but are frequently used by children. These are similar to oil paint in their taking a very long time to dry.






Artwork - 035

“What’s A Prince Without His Crown” 30″ x 22″, watercolor


Our next big category is watercolor. What are color paint comes in either tube or cake form and you use water to dilute it and make the paint liquid. When applied to paper it is transparent and so has a beautiful light contained within it.


There is also gouache which is a form of watercolor where the paint is opaque and you cannot see through it. This is frequently the medium of choice for designers. This paint has a matte, not shiny finish.




I hope this clarifies some of the differences the time to paint that artists use and that the next time you go to an art gallery you will find it easier to interpret the labels under the paintings.

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Being in Mississippi for Art Colony is an intense, stimulating,inspiring, hilarious, heart-warming, exhausting experience.  There is a tremendous power just being in a place where 40 or so accomplished artists gather to work individually but together. Each one works on their own projects but there is consultation and support and exploration-a synergy, if you will- unlike any you can ever find on your own. It’s a growth experience that you can’t get in the solitude of one’s own studio.

For me, it is an opportunity to paint larger than I usually do. This means wielding a canvas that is 5′ high and 4′ wide.  I feel a freedom for exploration and discovery that is hard to summon all by myself. Knowing that this is a unique opportunity, I decided to throw caution to the wind and committed myself to the best learning experience I could have.

I began the large painting with pouring and dripping paint onto the canvas while I tilted it in different directions to help the paint run. After several layers, I discerned a figure, wearing a hat, seated on a ball. In order to see it better, I used white to outline it.


I consulted with our teacher/artist, Noah Saterstrom, who suggested I protect that image as I added more layers to the painting, so I covered it with blue painter’s tape.  I continued



to add layers of paint to the canvas as well as shapes, blending and dripping as I went. While protecting the form of the figure, the tape created other problems. I think I was unconsciously pulled by the blue of the tape as the colors I added were all some shade of blue.  It also meant that the figure would be isolated from the rest of the picture and I would have to work to integrate it into the overall image. I soon removed the tape and began that process.

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This is where I’ve left it, just for the moment, as it continues to build. More in the next installment. What does it look like to you? What direction might you take it from here?

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Hot Miss

Here I am in Mississippi,  an unlikely place for a New Yorker, for the Spring session of Mississippi Art Colony. I am a fulfledged member, having been introduced to it by an artist friend who lives here.

I gather with 40 other artists to work together, share ideas, make art and consult with the artist teacher about our work. It’s a stimulating and fun 5 days and I always make some insteresting work and get inspired. Mississippi Art Colony boasts being the oldest in the country, although I know of no others.

We are housed at a sleep-away camp and like all camps, the food isn’t very good nor are the beds. But the experience is great! Here’s a look at the camp lake our first, foggy morning. It led to a very hot day.

I’ll keep you updated on my developments here!

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I’m writing this with a red pen, which seems appropriate since this article is about the color REDRedPenProbably my favorite color, at least this week, I feel qualified on the subject as people are always talking to me about my colors. As a colorist, who has studied color in depth, I have become somewhat of an authority on color and by extension, on red.


From a technical standpoint, red is a primary color (along with yellow and blue), meaning that it cannot be made through the mixing other colors but rather can be used to mix an infinity of colors, including purple, orange, brown, magenta, lavender, etc. Considered a warm color because of its association with heat, red can generate a sense of warmth, embracing and calm. using-redOthers find it energizing, volatile, exciting and, at times, representative of anger. We say we are “in the pink” or “seeing red” with fury. So having red (or shades of) in your life can be a powerful thing.

This came up when I was sharing some new work at my artist group. A musician friend came up and said “I really love your red paintings; they make me feel so calm, I’d love to own one.” I was certainly pleased that she felt that way but was taken aback that she called it a red painting. Yes, it did have a lot of red elements but the background was all yellow and as well as some lavender. But there it was, a red painting – red dominates the space. 


HOT ICE acrylic on cradled board, 10″ x 10″ $295 

What effect does RED have on you?




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Painting Intuitively

As I move more and more into non-objective abstraction, I use the phrase “painting intuitively” with increasing frequency. I have been thinking about it a lot lately as I am stuck on a painting that started out quite intuitively.

But if I take this literally, now that I am stuck & trying to make the painting work, I wonder, does that mean that my intuition has left me? As the painting began, I was open and free flowing, going with it where it seemed to want to go. I would stop and look and get inspired again and move the painting in that direction. It was delightful Spring colors which reflected my mood, even as we were experiencing wintry frosts. The pinks, peaches and blues were light and airy and the motion in the painting leading me dreamily.IMG_4970

Not yet there but a really solid start. Then I worked on it “intuitively” and really messed it up! I will have many hours of backtracking to get it to where I want to be. Did that mean that my intuition failed me? This is not the first time I have had to rework a painting.

A big part of painting is like figuring out a puzzle: we create problems for ourselves that we then have to solve. I have been a painter for a long time and often my intuition gets it right from the start. I think that a lot of my intuition comes from many years of practice and learning that leads me in the direction I want to go.

Most painting is intuitive within these parameters. No one told Da Vinci how to create shadows and fullness, nor Vermeer how to have light shining from his canvases. They and all painters learn and invent. Their education and practice taught them how to use their tools. But their invention is the sum of that and their intuition at play. It is the mix of their knowledge and creativeness that lets their intuition shine.

Here is one of my successful intuitive paintings. Sphere Of Influence, acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, $2500.Version 3

What do you think? Would you like to exercise your creative intuition while honing skills to make your work successful? That’s just what we’ll be doing in the Creativity Blast Workshop. Click here to learn more.

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Going Buggy

The creative process can be a mystery. I frequently work intuitvely, letting my painting evolve to where my soul inspiration takes me. What allows me to source the imagery is part imagination and part my experience with art. Everyone has an imagination so I don’t need to teach that. So I teach things that will spark the imagination and provide skills that help bring imaginings to life.

It is hard to know where the paintings get their start so I decided to take you along on my process for the painting, Scarab.

I began by coating my canvas with iridescent media, giving the surface a sparkle, a first step to make a magical environment. I then sprayed water on the canvas and dropped in acrylic inks in blues, greens and a rusty red for contrast, that spread and moved through the droplets of water, creating interesting shapes.

Adding more color and spreading some to strengthen the color scheme, I started to see shapes that I wanted to draw out.IMG_1020

They started to take on the character of imaginary insects. I was having great fun with them but felt something was missing in the center and decided to add it.IMG_1022

You can see here where I first outlined the butterfly wing, knowing that the iridescent would evoke the butterfly. SCARAB

As I added more color and strengthened the shapes, Scarab, was complete!


Looking to expand your own creativity? Join me for the Creativity Blast Workshop! A great way to blast through the resistance and let your inner creativity blossom! Your creative soul is speaking to you to let it express. Let me be your guide as we explore your creative expression and gain techniques to bring it forth in beauty!

This workshop is for you when

  • img_3396you have wanted to make art but didn’t think you could
  • you are looking for an intuitive way to express yourself 
  • you’ve made art but feel blocked and don’t know how to get past it
  • want to create but don’t have the time or space
  • you want a caring guide to help you create beauty


    • paint on paper, board, canvas and in original art books.
    • explore different kinds of mixed media with an emphasis on acrylic paint and watercolor.
    • delve into creating textures you can see and feel.
    • create using collage, stamps, stencils and art transfers.
    • printmaking and learning the various techniques for printing without a printing press.

    Most materials will be supplied by the studio and you needn’t carry your materials back-and-forth with you each week.

Sign up now! Scrool to the bottom of the page, fill out the form and make your payment. The workshop begins April 11! For more info and to register, click here. Any questions, feel free to email me at karenart99@yahoo.com. See you soon!



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I’m an artist and a teacher who paints from the soul. My palette is the vibrancy of the world, the colors everywhere you look. I believe that each of us is a creative being, that we make things to express who we are. I know about doubting your ability, wondering if you can make something you like. I understand what it’s like to feel blocked, to need a way to get back to that elemental part of yourself. I help my students explore their creativity and their intuition. I’ll help you succeed by giving you tools and structure to get you started on your journey. Each class you will learn a new technique that will allow you to express yourself more distinctly than you could’ve imagined. This class is an exercise in IMG_1831freedom, exploration and freeing your inner creative self. While I provide a forum for this freedom and self-expression, I will also give you the skills and techniques that will help you bring forth the beauty within you in a way that is closer to your imaginings.


During the 9 weeks of the workshop, you will learn the elements of art– color,
form, shape, space, value, texture, line. During each class, there will be a IMG_3814group mini lesson, after which you will be invited to participate in the assignment, or if you prefer, you can develop your own work independently. Whichever path you choose, I will be there to guide you, to help you focus, to usher you to the next step in your creation. Your own expression, your art will not be dictated by the rigors of tight structure but rather works of art that have the benefit of both the skills you have learned and the depth of
your intuition.


  • img_3396you have wanted to make art but didn’t think you could
  • you are looking for an intuitive way to express yourself 
  • you’ve made art but feel blocked and don’t know how to get past it
  • want to create but don’t have the time or space
  • you want a caring guide to help you create beauty


  • IMG_1830paint on paper, board, canvas and in original art books. 
  • explore different kinds of mixed media with an emphasis on acrylic paint and watercolor. 
  • delve into creating textures you can see and feel. 
  • create using collage, stamps, stencils and art transfers. 
  • printmaking and learning the various techniques for printing without a printing press. 

Most materials will be supplied by the studio and you needn’t carry your materials back-and-forth with you each week.


IMG_1764IMG_3417 (1)IMG_1861

The small size of the class means that we can adapt to the wants and needs of the students, providing flexibility for beginners and experienced artists alike. Held in the Downstairs Studio in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn, the recent renovation provides a creative, nurturing and comfortable workspace.

So let with your inner creativity blast through! Have a blast bringing creativity into your life each week!

your teacher, Artist Karen Friedland




Intuit Orange




Early Bird Savings! Sign up by April 3rd and save $25!

Click here to go to the workshop page. Scroll to the bottom, fill out the form with your info and please share why you are taking the workshop. Pay with the “buy now” button. Looking forward to seeing you April 13!




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As part of my practice as an artist and a business person, periodically I work on clarifying my vision for myself in my life, my art and my business.   This is a very creative approach for elucidating where I see myself going in future months and years. Part of this process is to create a vision board for myself using magazine collage and other art materials.

Sometimes I can find exactly what I am visualizing in a photograph or words that I cut out from the magazines. But other times they are a jumping off point for me and I add a great deal of writing.

This time  I felt that my vision is going to be really big so I used a large piece of paper folded in thirds. This gave me a lot of space to really explore different areas. I found images of lots of people who I think of as my potential customers, either for my art, my teaching or both. It was fun to throw in a few celebrities who I think might love what I do.

After visiting Africa and seeing the lack of art supplies of any kind in the classrooms, I founded Arts For Africa, a non-profit under the umbrella of Books For Africa. This therefore, is a big part of my vision.imageimageimage

The next part had to do with a lot of soul searching. For the first time ever, I decided to pick a word for the year. This word is VULNERABLITY. I feel it is time for me to be seen in my most authentic way and that includes the bumps & warts. Sharing yourself with the world makes one very vulnerable to others’ responses, something I cannot control. Hence, my word. I also  show where my focus will be in terms of goals and projects.

I have my vision board put up in my studio. It frequently inspires and motivates me. It’s there to help me stay on track.

Do you have a vision &/or vision board? I’d love if you would share it in the comments!

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Making A Commitment

In the last few months I’ve made commitments to do a number of different things. I’ve made a commitment to make myself and my work more visible to the world. Sometimes this is easy because it means spending more time on social media, or at least feeling justified to use my time there more productively.

Other things, like this blog, require more structure to get done. It’s not that I don’t like writing. In fact, I was a journalism major in college and have done a lot of writing. It is just that when my focus went to visual art, I stopped focusing on this skill. Yet, writing, or communicating with any medium, is just a way to connect with other people.

While most would consider me outgoing, I still get kind of shy, wondering if others would find my stories interesting. I am so used to telling my stories visually that I’m not sure where to start.

When it came to making a commitment to my art, I’ve discovered that giving myself a tight structure, like working a theme daily, has been good for me. In November, I did an elephant a day for Art Everyday Month (see https://karenfriedland.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/an-elephant-a-day-week-two/ and https://karenfriedland.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/an-elephant-a-day-week-two/ ). After a frenetic end of the year, I missed the structure and committed to making and posting a Noodle Doodle everyday, for A Doodle A Day Month (my creation).

I found that I wanted to include both abstract and realistic work. Both qualify as doodles because they are in not fully formed works of art. But they are valuable and worth sharing. The realistic drawings, mostly loose portraits, are drawn in meetings and while I ride the subway. Any situation where people are confined to one place, not moving around much is good.

The abstracts started when I thought I might make a coloring book of abstracts. They may still might happen but I love the way the lines come together to spark the imagineion or foster a mood.

I’m sharing them here in this little video with some music. Hope you like them!


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I’ve have been engaged in cleaning out and organizing my studio since the beginning of the year. It was pretty messy, having not been tackled much during my super intense work at the end of the year. But it isn’t really taking that much time to take on that project; it’s just that I have a hard time sticking with a project like that when I have all the things I want to play with right there. All my art supplies and inspiration allured me as I was cleaning. I hate to admit it but every time things started to feel organized, I gave myself permission to be distracted by my art.

So much fun! It’s like sneaking under the covers & reading after bedtime. But big canvases wouldn’t fit under the covers, so I have been making a bunch of small pieces. Not really working under the covers, just caught up in my metaphor. ;0) I want to share my process on one of them.

Starting with a 10″ square cradled (framed out) board, it was time to play with all sorts of mixed media. I used three types, applying each in a band across the board.IMG_4057

On the bottom I used gesso, in the middle I knifed on acrylic ground for pastels using the knife a varied, choppy texture. Then on the top band, I applied plaster through stencils. I sanded them when they were dry to get rid of sharp edges

I liquified colors and floated them onto the board. I decided to start with colors along the same bands of texture I had. Adding that sunny green, I sprayed it so it would drip and integrate together.IMG_4205



I used my fingers to apply a golden color on the raised textures at the top. More color and drips start adding depth and dimension. It was interesting but it didn’t have enough definition for me. I decided it needed more contrast. So I added black. Wow-black! I am such a color person, with a grounding in watercolor, so I hardly ever use black, especially not in any large sections. This was pretty brave for me. IMG_4232.jpg

I painted around the raised elements in the top section and used black paint to begin defining the elements. I looked at it for quite a while before I went on to finish it. I needed some time realize how it should end up. Added more color in varying shades and tones, enriched the black and gave it sparkle with shiny cooper on the raised elements. Then the hard part was to give it a title (sometimes the hardest).  Decided on “Night Growth.”IMG_4339.jpg

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